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« Kevin Anderson does science | Main | Diary date: AR5 hearing »
Thursday
Jan232014

Steyn fights

Mark Steyn has posted an interesting update on his defence of Michael Mann's defamation suit. It seems that Steyn has had differences with the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute over tactics and is now feeling vindicated as the case has become bogged down in procedural argument. And he wants the case dismissed rather than going to trial, as this is what will best protect the principle of free speech:

Defendant Steyn stands by his words and is willing to defend them at trial and before a jury, should it come to that. However, as a noted human-rights activist in Canada and elsewhere, he believes that the cause of freedom of expression in the United States would best be served by dismissing the amended complaint, and that a trial would have a significant "chilling effect" in America of the kind the Anti-SLAPP laws are specifically designed to prevent.

You can see his point.

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Reader Comments (25)

The problem that anyone has with defending themselves against people like Michael Mann, is the huge amount of money Big Green can give them to support the legal costs.

A war of attrition in the US courts will not favour the normal free-thinking man in the street but rather the Green-backed alarmists.

Jan 23, 2014 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

You all realize, of course, that mikey mann will be crowing 'Victory!'

Jan 23, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

Oh bugger. Looks like I am going to have to stump up again. Still, it is hard to think of a better cause.

It is not as though I could move Mann any further up my shit list, either. He has been top of it for some years now.

Jan 23, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

I writing as a Delingpole regular and an attorney. No, I don't see Steyn's point. The way this thing came about read as a concerted effort by several publications to say to Mann "Bring it on." It appeared to be an attempt to get a real lawsuit so there could be wide ranging discovery and get at Mann's purported data and various irregularities and his correspondence with other warmists. When you have a "Bring it on attitude" or write statements you know are likely to result in your being sued, you do that with your funding already in place. Steyn has been decimated by the lawsuits in Canada. He knows the drill. If he expected to get a dismissal through the "rhetorical hyperbole" defense to protect free speech, that sure isn't how anything was positioned at the beginning. And what is the particular point of going through all this to prove that? The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on media coverage of public figures in two big cases already.

No, I don't see the point of writing more about Mann with purposefully fighting words if the point isn't to get him to sue and finally get discovery. Stein is saying he wants to protect his journalistic freedom to call Mann a fraud or whatever he called him. Big deal. Plenty of people have already called him a fraud or his work fraudulent. Wasted effort and expense. Having funding in place and going through with the actual lawsuit to get discovery and a jury verdict that Mann is a fraud is what would mean something.

Jan 23, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered Commentermsher

"Defendant Steyn has been in many courtrooms in his native Canada and many other parts of the British Commonwealth and has never seen a case so procedurally bungled."

No doubt true, but I can't see that's likely to endear him to members of the United States judiciary. Much as I like Steyn's work, I think he needs to understand when to stop being a polemicist.

Jan 23, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

IANAL, but I agree with msher. Any effort by Steyn to get the case dismissed will be seen (and broadcast) by Mann as victory. He will also have successfully avoided discovery again in yet another greased piglet manoeuvre.

Jan 23, 2014 at 12:58 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Mann's edvidence won't stand up in court and his side know it, they will do all they can to keep him out, but pinning him down is the best for justice and the planet etc.
..but a pity Steyn has to suffer..but "pile on the pressure" is the game Mann's team will play ..

Jan 23, 2014 at 12:58 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

typo: "National Record" should be "National Review"

Jan 23, 2014 at 1:07 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

The problem is that Steyn and the other defendants are not even arguing (in court) that Mann's work was fraudulent. They are claiming that was just 'hyperbole' which they didn't intend to be taken as a factual claim that Mann really did commit fraud. Even worse, they keep filing motions asking to delay or quash discovery.

In public they are saying, 'Mann committed scientific fraud! Bring on discovery so we can prove it!', but in the courtroom they are saying, 'We were only suggesting that we disagreed with Mann, not that he REALLY committed fraud. Oh and, we would like to avoid ANY discovery in this case at all.'

What the hell?

Jan 23, 2014 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterCBDunkerson

Neil McEvoy,

I disagree...if our very own Mr Holland took your advice he would never have won against the BBC...and all because his integrity wouldn't allow him to give up.

I think it's the same here with Styen. We need people like him to stand up for what they believe in (basically not caving in which is what Mann wants as he knows how expensive this is and has deep green pockets).

Mailman

Jan 23, 2014 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Steyn says:


Many "climate skeptics" wonder why the defendants would want to get the complaint dismissed rather than put Mann through a trial in which he would have to take the witness stand and discuss his work under oath.
I wonder which option BH participants would prefer?

Jan 23, 2014 at 2:08 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

And one assumes Mann is still refusing to produce papers for the Ball case as well?

Jan 23, 2014 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Paul: I've never put any hope in the legal route with Mann. Science needs to heal itself, from the inside - cutting loose from the Royal Society and other academies as necessary. Meanwhile I support Steyn on free speech and wish him the very best.

Jan 23, 2014 at 2:31 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Steyn is right: the process is the punishment.

The process is also a deterrent to those who might otherwise speak out against the likes of Mann were it not for the threat of being hauled into court, there to be punished by the process.

Jan 23, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterClawmute

Some people here are forgetting that this claim will be judged against the legal position, not against what they wish to happen.

Back to first principles - Mann is the plaintiff in a libel case against Steyn and CEI. From a legal perspective, all Steyn is interested in is not losing the case and so being found guilty of libel and having to pay Mann both damages and costs.

In the particular jurisdiction, the one of the first legal steps in this is to see whether Mann's claim can be dismissed under the anti-SLAPP statutes.

The following link gives good background on what this is about

http://www.popehat.com/2012/06/07/why-yes-i-am-into-slapping/

The particular important bit of background:

"SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. A malicious or frivolous lawsuit that chills speech is the SLAPP; the statute employed against it is the anti-SLAPP statute, and the motion under the statute is an anti-SLAPP motion."

If Steyn wins, and gets the libel claim dismissed under anti-SLAPP statutes, it means the libel claim has been judged as being malicious or frivolous. No way on God's Green Earth can that be spun as a 'win' for Mann - his claim has been judged as being either malicious or frivolous AND he is required to pay costs.

Jan 23, 2014 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Blanchard

Mailman,

I think you may have misunderstood me. I want Steyn to fight to win, whether that is through dismissal of Mann's complaint as frivolous, or in front of a jury. I appreciate that those are good outcomes in slightly different ways. In either case, I suspect the tactic of stridently criticising the US court system, especially in comparison with those in Commonwealth countries, is ill-advised. That is the only point I was trying to make.

Jan 23, 2014 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

and meanwhile Judith Curry issues an open challenge to Michael Mann:

"JC challenge to MM: Since you have publicly accused my Congressional testimony of being ‘anti-science,’ I expect you to (publicly) document and rebut any statement in my testimony that is factually inaccurate or where my conclusions are not supported by the evidence that I provide."

I suspect she will be waiting a long time for satisfaction. Plus ça change...

Jan 23, 2014 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered Commentermichaelhart

O/T:

"The more time I spent at the BBC the more I realised it was common practice to have tongues down your throat, tongues in your ear, bums being squeezed."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10592338/Dave-Lee-Travis-trial-BBC-ignored-alleged-victims-complaints-jurors-told.html

Why am I not surprised?

Jan 23, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Neil,

If a Judge bases his opinion on how hurt his feelings are because of what Styen writes then this will be yet another miscarriage of justice...once again ala our very own Mr Holland and one of his earlier hearings.

Regards

Mailman

Jan 23, 2014 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

The problem is this: the 'climate science' field is so shot through with shoddy work that any given paper or analysis that might, in fact, have been done with an intent to defraud* is probably also sloppy enough that the authors could skate on the grounds that they're not crooks, they're just wrong.

* and yes, in my view, cherry-picking inputs to produce a career-enhancing result is vanishingly close to 'an intent to defraud' if combined with an effort intentionally to hide inputs that do not or otherwise to prevent independent recreation of the result.

Jan 23, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Mailman,

Indeed, but I don't believe any good can come from targeting a judge with polemic, as opposed to persisting with raw facts and cold logic. It's not playing the percentages.

Regards,
Neil

Jan 23, 2014 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

From whom is Mann getting the funding?

Jan 24, 2014 at 1:09 AM | Unregistered Commentermpalmer

Neil,

Thankfully there are people willing to expose the short comings of our various "systems". Hell, if sceptics adopted your "don't rock the boat" attitude no one would be questioning Mann Made Global Warming (tm)! Fortunately there are people out there who are prepared to rock the boat and long may they do so!

Mailman

Jan 24, 2014 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Mailman,

He hasn't lost yet; but he's acting as if he wants to, which will serve the cause of truth in science not one jot. There is a time to rock boats and a time (to mix metaphors) to live to fight another day.

Regards,
Neil

Jan 24, 2014 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

No one is acting anything Neil. Styen is pointing out the absurdity if the system just as he did when fighting the human rights court in Canada. If a judge gets upset that Steyn might say mean things then clearly that person is too immature to be in such a position of power.

Mailman

Jan 24, 2014 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

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